From the outset Steve Dunlop had set his sights on owning a V-Max now, just a year after passing his test, and completely by chance, his dreams have come true.
I came to biking a little later than most people and didn’t event think of starting seriously until I had reached the age of thirty. Having passed my test a little over a year ago, I bought a cheap and cheerful 1980 Yamaha XS750 just to get some big bike experience on a budget but, secretly, I always lusted after a V-Max. It happened by accident, I was working on my market stall when a friend said he was going to the local bike auctions. I just said, if there was a cheap V-Max there, would you give me a shout. A complete stranger was walking past the stall, overheard the conversation, and said he had one and in fact it was for sale. Well that was it, a short visit, and four thousand pounds later, and the bike of my dreams was now in my possession. The bike, a Canadian import with 12,000 kilometers on the clock, was in pretty fine fettle when I first got it and since then some minor work has been carried out mainly to improve the looks to my taste. A set of slash cut cobra pipes have replaced the standard black chrome items, with a corresponding increase in volume, while elsewhere, many chrome and polished alloy parts have been added. I stumbled across a great website at www.vmaxbits.com, packed with after market parts for the bike making the possibilities almost endless, but I am trying. A pair of flatter bars has replaced the standard ones but this, in turn, has created problems with the throttle cable and brake hose routing. This will be attended to next, hopefully by letting the throttle take a wider route and fitting a set of shorter, stainless steel, hoses for the hydraulic system. Also the mirrors have become next to useless following this latest modification so wider ones have been ordered hopefully giving a better view rearwards.
I have added a steering damper, having heard of the types speed wobbles and other forms of bad behaviour, I thought it was wiser to play safe rather than risk it. I was a little concerned about my lack of experience versus the awesome repute of the V-Four muscle bike, but generally the big Yamaha has looked after me. It can go some, and does show signs of its pure animal reputation if you wind that throttle back, but heavy tyre wear appears to be the main result of that kind of use so, it is best kept to a minimum. A rear tyre can disappear in a cloud of smoke within 800 miles if you are throttle happy and I have recently fitted a fresh set of Avon tyres following the runs during the latter part of last summer.
I am trying to do all of the maintenance myself too, which, being a big and complex machine, has been a steep learning curve but also great fun. For instance fitting the open pipes messed up the carburetion but, I bought a cheap set of vacuum gauges and did it myself, now it runs a treat again. The V-Max gets regular runs out during the summer months as the many bike nights around the Nth Notts area where I live, gives me a great excuse to stretch its legs. The bike always drawing a crowd, and plenty of interest, wherever I park it up.
Yamaha already had an awesome engine housed in the Goldwing look alike Venture 1200, a model not too common in the UK but very popular stateside in the early 80s. An English designer, John Reed, then resident on the US west coast was contacted by the Japanese with a view to designing an all new concept in factory produced machinery, the ultimate custom bike to join their already successful XV range.
Reed used a highly tuned version of the well proven Venture V4 liquid cooled engine and wrapped a huge frame around it, bedecked with “Mad Max” styling. Unlike many concept bikes the V-Max stayed pretty faithful to the original artist drawings with its long chopper style chassis and sweeping futuristic bodywork. Yamaha had considered a turbo boost at one point, but with power already well above 140bhp, the option was not pursued and the V-Boost was fully developed instead.
The V-max was original intended to be sold just in the US and was first shown to selected dealers and press in 1984. Launched in 1985 the V-Max was an instant hit with the press, it displayed heart-stopping acceleration although the lengthy chassis, huge mass, and laid back 29 degree head angle, offers little in the way of modern day handling. Nonetheless the model sold well and remains in the Yamaha line up albeit much refined and civilised. Soon after the launch stateside the European market started to demand this new machine and it was well received once it hit the showrooms.
The original V-Max featured the Yamaha designed V-Boost system, this links opposing pairs of intake ducts and is servo activated to open above 5750 rpm and are fully open at 8000rpm. The V-Boost adds around 10 percent to the total power output but was rendered largely ineffective in Europe due to the voluntary 100bhp limit recognized by the Japanese manufacturers. The system was not fitted to officially imported V-Max models for the European market place creating a very high demand for grey imports.
Yamaha V-Max Specifications
- Engine – Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 70 deg, V4, four-stroke
- Capacity – 1197 cc
- Bore/stroke – 76 x 66mm
- Power – 145bhp @ 9000rpm (unrestricted)
- Torque – 89ft-lb @7500rpm
- Carburation – 4 x 35mm Mikuni
- Transmission – 5 speed, wet-clutch, shaft final drive
- Frame – Steel cradle
- Suspension – 40mm Kayaba Air aassisted telescopic forks, Kayaba Twin shock rear
- Brakes – 2 x 298mm Disc 2-piston floating calipers, 298mm Disc 2-piston floating caliper
- Wheels – 110/90 x18, 150/90 x 15
- Weight – 263kgs
- Top speed – 146mph
- Wheelbase – 1590mm
- Fuel capacity – 15lts
Yamaha V-Max Gallery